The Best Poets of the 20th Century

List Rules
Vote up the best poets working between 1900-1999 in any language. Only written-word poetry; no musical lyrics!

Who are the best 20th century poets? This list includes great poets from the 20th century such as Maya Angelou, T.S. Eliot, James Baldwin, and Robert Frost. Though the genre of poetry has a rich history, dating back many centuries, the 1900s have seen some truly great poets and poetry. From modernist poetry and imagism to more traditional forms, the poets on this list have mastered their craft.

Written works have the ability to make us feel. They make us want to believe, be inspired, and live vicariously through the stories on the page. Whether short or long form, poetry is often illusory, and full of rich imagery or hidden meaning. It is these elements which provoke readers to dig deeper. The best poems and poets are read throughout the ages. They are passed from generation to generation and taught throughout schools to young students.

Poets and their poetry have the ability to take readers places and into worlds never imagined. Poets can often be tortured souls or great thinkers that allow readers a new view on the world. These greatest 20th century poets provide the kind of emotional connection to the written word that few can, and do so in a modern way. Among them are some of the top writers and poets of all time.

Vote up the best poets from the 20th century on the list below, or add a 20th century poet if he or she is not already on the list.

Ranked by
  • William Butler Yeats
    When You Are Old, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, Never Give All The Heart
  • T. S. Eliot
    The Wasteland, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Hollow Men
  • Pablo Neruda
    I Do Not Love You, If You Forget Me, Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines
  • Ranier Maria Rilke

    Ranier Maria Rilke

    At The Brink Of Night, Behind the Blameless Trees, Falconry
  • Constantine P. Cavafy
    Ithaca, As Much As You Can, Body Remember
  • Federico García Lorca
    The Open Balcony, Viaje a la luna, Blind Grace
  • Fernando Pessoa
    Livro Do Desassossego
  • Robert Frost
    The Road Not Taken, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Mending Wall
  • Sylvia Plath
    The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems
  • Anna Akhmatova
    Everything, I Taught Myself to Live Simply, You Will Hear Thunder
  • Wislawa Symborska

    Wislawa Symborska

  • Anne Sexton
    Verwandlungen / Transformations, All My Pretty Ones, Live or Die
  • W. H. Auden
    Funeral Blues, Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue, A Walk After Dark
  • e.e. cummings
    i carry your heart with me, may i feel said he, maggie and milly and molly and may
  • Dylan Thomas
    Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, And Death Shall Have No Dominion, Fern Hill
  • Wallace Stevens
    The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Sunday Morning, Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock
  • Paul Celan
    Fugue of Death, In Front of a Candle, Psalm
  • Elizabeth Bishop
    One Art, I Am in Need of Music, The Fish
  • Seamus Heaney
    Blackberry-Picking, Mid-Term Break, Death of a Naturalist
  • Maya Angelou
    Still I Rise, Phenomenal Woman, Caged Bird
  • Langston Hughes
    Dreams, As I Grew Older, Mother to Son
  • Philip Larkin
    Aubade, The Spirit Wood, Since the Majority of Me
  • Marina Tsvetaeva
    Much Like Me, Lady with Camelias, Whence Cometh Such Tender Rapture?
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay
    Fatal interview, The murder of Lidice, The harp-weaver and other poems
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
    In the Mecca; Poems, Annie Allen